The Boombox Project by Lyle Owerko was recently shown in collaboration with XOYO at The Whisper Gallery London, but what can a series of photographs of Boomboxes teach us about the history of music and collective experience?
Lyle Owerko from an early age had a strong interest in music, and this led to his fascination with audio playing devices in later years. The Boombox Project originated as photographs of his own personal collection of Boomboxes but it quickly spread leading him to photograph hundreds of Boomboxes in an attempt to chart the era of the Boombox and the influence it had on its generation.
Whilst the photos of Boomboxes may invoke feelings of nostalgia, the aim of The Boombox Project extends further than this as it captures the importance of the Boombox and the role it played in the spread of collective music and its role within the urban landscape.
In a recent article Lyle Owerko wrote
The Boombox’s hefty persona resonated deeply through the disaffected youth of the late 70’s and early 80’s. A fringe generation took on this portable conglomeration of lights, dials and speakers and launched movements such as hip-hop, punk, new wave as well as breakdancing and graffiti. The Boombox was there the whole time either recording the soundtrack or providing it.
The Boombox allowed a new freedom of music and became an integral audio and visual symbol of its generation. The photographs themselves open up dialogues about the individual Boomboxes and aside from being visually striking images they leave us wondering about the history behind each Boombox, who they belonged to, the stories behind them, from their scratches and dents to the stickers emblazoned on them.
The Boombox Project was exhibited until the 15th of January 2012 at The Whisper Gallery has also published a book on this photo series, The Boombox Project: The Machines, the Music, and the Urban Underground. More information from the artist can be found on his website.